METAIRIE, La. — Anthony Davis said repeatedly, “I feel like it’s my time,” as he spoke Friday for the first time since his trade request was made public.
“I gave the city, organization, fans everything I feel like I could,” the New Orleans Pelicans star said. “I don’t know how long I’m gonna play this game. People’s careers are short. And I feel like it’s my time to move on. …
“I feel like I’m in my prime right now, I’m playing at an elite level. And I want to make sure I take advantage of that.”
Davis, who turns 26 next month, rejected the idea that he has specifically requested a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, saying that neither he nor his representation gave the Pelicans a specific trade destination or a timetable in which to trade him.
“So, I’m not sure where that’s coming from. Maybe a connection with my representation,” Davis said of agent Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron James.
The trade deadline is Thursday, but Davis remains under contract with the Pelicans through 2020. So it’s possible the Pelicans could wait until the offseason to deal him — especially because the Boston Celtics will be in a position to make them a stronger offer by then.
If Davis does remain in New Orleans beyond next week, it will force an awkward decision of whether to play him or bench him for the remainder of the season. Davis has missed the past six games with a finger injury, but he is expected to be healthy enough to return soon.
Davis said he intends to play when healthy: “Obviously it’s a tough situation, but my intention is to still play. And when I’m able to play, I plan on suiting up.”
However, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was noncommittal Friday, saying, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“I don’t know if the trading deadline is going to mean, ‘Oh, we’ll sit this guy out and not play him in a particular game,'” Gentry said. “It has not been done since I’ve been here where we said, ‘Don’t play this guy because the trading deadline is tomorrow.'”
Davis acknowledged that his decision was a tough one because of his connection with teammates, the Pelicans organization and the fan base — saying New Orleans will always have a place in his heart.
“But at the same time, I had to think about myself and my future and my career and move forward,” said Davis, who has made only two playoff appearance in six-plus seasons with New Orleans since being drafted with the No. 1 pick in 2012. “I had high hopes. When you play somewhere for a long time — seven years, six and a half, I guess — this is all I know is New Orleans. … But I’d say for the most part, it was just thinking about my career and my future and my legacy — and doing what’s best for me.
“I’m all about legacy. The money comes and goes. And when I get done playing or leave this earth, what is my legacy gonna be?”
Davis said the Pelicans’ disappointing 23-29 start played a part in his decision — especially after hopes were so high following last year’s run to the second round of the playoffs.
But he said there was no specific moment that made him decide to request the trade and that the Pelicans have shown him “nothing but respect.”
In fact, Davis said he wanted to make the trade request sooner than later, “not just for myself but out of respect for the organization” and owner Gayle Benson.
“They’ve done everything for me. These fans, community. So [I was] giving them an opportunity and enough time to be able to make a decision best for the organization,” Davis said.